Today is Groundhog Day. Legend says if the groundhog sees his shadow we’ll have six more weeks of winter; no shadow means an early spring. This year Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means we can expect six more weeks of winter. As a former resident of more northern climes, I have always found this prediction to be a bit of a joke, up north we always knew that there would be at least six more weeks of winter. I’ve always wondered how this legend ever got started. The Punxsutawney ceremony always shows the mayor or some official dragging poor Phil out of his burrow. Today in a similar ceremony, in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg was bitten on the hand by his groundhog. How did this legend ever get started? Why would a groundhog be out of his burrow on a cold February morning in the first place? As it turns out groundhogs begin breeding in early February and their breeding season runs though March. So dear folks, it appears that our winter weather is now subject to the whims of some horny groundhog.
One of my calendars for this year is the Missouri Natural Events Calendar, from the Missouri Department of Conservation. I got it because it has some pretty cool naturalist pictures. I really like it now, because in addition to the pictures, each day has as the calendar’s name implies, a natural event that is supposed to take place on that day. Today being Groundhog Day, well we have groundhog breeding season starting. Tomorrow when I wake up, I expect to hear chickadees singing, the first bird song of the year. It is on the calendar. On Thursday, I have penciled in, great horn owls beginning their nesting. Friday should be interesting, because goldfinches should begin molting into their bright breeding plumage. I’m a little concerned about the schedule for Saturday though. Not because male cardinals will begin territorial singing, but because another bird, the Canada goose begins searching for mates. Canada geese and I have, let us say, a bit of a history together. It is a good thing I know exactly when their breeding season is going to begin, so I can plan accordingly.
Continuing the natural theme, the picture with this post is a Google Earth satellite map of the Monterey peninsula and its environs. The newsworthy aspect of this picture is that Google Earth has added the ocean’s floor as a feature of their satellite maps. It shows the underpinnings of what is one of Americas most spectacular coastlines. No word yet when Google plans to extend this feature to the Great Lakes. Today’s header shows young gulls sun bathing on the beach in Florida.